Turning White Weddings Green: A Sustainable Approach
The average American wedding costs over $30,000 to put on, from dresses and rings to the venue and cake. But while the big bill is technically optional, very few people successfully manage to host a wedding that minimizes waste – no matter how eco-friendly they purport to be. That may all be changing, though, as entrepreneurs commit themselves to create a greener wedding industry.
Throwing a green wedding demands that hosts and planners make lots of small, sustainable decisions, but business owners are making sure that it’s finally a viable choice. These four sustainable swaps can make your big day one that your guests will remember, but that the landfill won’t.
A Look At Locations
The first step to throwing a green wedding is choosing a venue that supports your goals since many have detailed rules about what vendors you can use. Luckily, as public interest in sustainability has grown, many have adapted their policies to keep up. Places that once used sustainable goods have switched to sustainably sourced meat and vegetables, adapted their in-house energy, and begun working with eco-friendly vendors. These venues grow by word of mouth, and they’ve become increasingly popular in short order as responsible hosts and planners call on their services.
If you can’t find a venue offering explicitly “sustainable” options, one alternative is to choose somewhere outdoors for the wedding and reception – and ideally, only one location. Outdoor venues like farms, parks, and vineyards use a lot less energy than comparable indoor locations, since they’re naturally lit, and they can also minimize waste more generally because it’s less convenient to hook up a lot of electrical equipment when you’re outside. Such outdoor locations are trendy right now as people opt for rustically themed events, so you might as well take advantage of such venues.
Wedding dresses are expensive, and many women spend the next several decades hauling around a gown they’ll never wear again. So what’s the point? It’s a combination of expectation – that women all want the perfectly tailored dress, even if it’s expensive – and of tradition. Though some wear dresses passed down within the family or hopes to give theirs to a daughter or niece, most wedding gowns never see the second wear.
One alternative to an expensive, one-wear garment is to buy something more functional – a shorter dress rather than a gown, for example, and to purchase it from a sustainable clothing brand. Brands like AGAATI use organic and sustainable materials, donate to NGOs, and their garments cost far less than traditional wedding wear, for the bride and bridal party.
A Vintage Touch
Unlike the wedding gown, you’ll wear your ring every day. If you opt for traditional diamonds, however, that little piece of stone and metal can do some serious damage to the earth. Simply put, mining is a dirty and ethically ambiguous process, but plenty of rings don’t carry that weight.
By investing in a vintage wedding band, you’ll have the option of unique designs you won’t find in stores today, and you’ll be giving a second life to a piece of jewelry with a long history. Older stones from smaller operations are typically more ethical than comparable modern pieces that stem from corporate operations and may even have played a role in funding warfare.
We often refer to spring and summer as “wedding season,” the time of year when the majority of weddings occur – and this is good news from the perspective of both catering and flowers since you’ll have plenty of seasonal options. Serving local, seasonal food, for example, will reduce your wedding’s carbon footprint since it won’t have to be shipped from far away or be grown in greenhouses, while seasonal flowers will also be less expensive.
Sustainable floral arrangements are likely to gain serious ground among event planners and individual couples in the coming years, in light of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s choice to select a sustainable florist for the royal wedding. Their chosen designer, Philippa Craddock, sources flowers from fair-trade farms, skips foam in favor of recycled cardboard and donates to a water charity that provides clean drinking water to needy communities, reinforcing the link between a business that thrives on privilege and more material, basic needs.
Hosting a sustainable wedding may not be a top priority for some, but for a growing number of couples, it’s part of expressing their individuality. Just as weddings have begun to move out of the church and the banquet hall, they’re also becoming an opportunity for the newly married couple to make a statement about their social and political beliefs and how they plan to spend their lives together as they go forward.